Culture National

Koreans upset about foreigner discount for winter festival

Source: Jarasum Winter Festival
Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon
A Korean newspaper lashed out Friday at the Gapyeong local government for organizing a winter festival that discriminates against Korean nationals. The festival offers group purchase deals exclusively for foreigners.

Under the title, Koreans Are Suckers for the Jarasum Winter Festival 내국인을 "호갱" 취급하는 자라섬 겨울축제, the Hankook Ilbo claimed that Korean visitors are upset about the local festival’s pricing policy as Korean nationals have to pay nearly five times as much as foreigners.

The paper claimed that foreigners only have to pay 8,000 won to receive 39,500 won worth of benefits, including the 13,000 won entrance fee for ice fishing; 7,000 won for snow sledding; 7,000 won for ice sledding; and 12,500 won for grilled trout (half portion).

 “I feel so terrible because I feel like I’m getting ripped off,” a Korean officer worker only identified as Kim was quoted as saying.

The Hankook Ilbo argued that the discount is available to any foreigner even though the website of the winter festival states that the discount is given only when a group of foreigners make a reservation at least three days in advance.

Lee Jae-ho, a supervisor of the festival, refuted the claim that discounts are available to individual foreigners, saying the local daily’s article was exaggerated.

He said the discount is available for advanced group bookings with five or more foreigners and that most of the individual entrance fees, such as snow sledding is technically only 2,000 won because people get a 5,000 won worth of a voucher when paying 7,000 won.

“Individual items such as ice fishing and others also come with a 5,000 won voucher, so in reality, they are paying only 2,000 won. The entrance ticket for ice fishing is sold online at 12,000 won online and it also comes with a 5,000 won voucher,” he told The Korea Observer.

Screenshot of the Jarasum Winter Festival webstie

Screenshot of the Jarasum  SingsingWinter Festival website

Lee hinted that many foreigners are paying more than what they would because of the group bookings.

“Many of them just take photos and enjoy the scenery rather than actually fishing,” Lee said, noting that the foreigner group discount is a promotion campaign that doesn’t run at the expense of Korean nationals’ spending.

Another official said this should not be a big issue because promotional information on these discounts is in Korean and he believes very few foreigners will be able to read it.

The festival’s website is only in Korean.

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at

  • kim

    Calm down koreans. Deal with it, foreigners are better

  • Julian Warmington

    Mr Lee Tae-hoon, thanks for your good work in seeking out and sharing the truth!

  • Arani Bhattacharya

    The organizers do not seem to be getting the point at all. Discriminating against people on the basis of race or nationality is wrong in principle. And it is also very awkward for people (like me) when they want to go somewhere with their Korean friends.

    • get a brain

      There are no discrimination laws or any type of law that benefit non-koreans. If there were, then it would only bring equal treatment and take the power away from the locals, which in turn will encourage foreign immigration.

  • Wanderlust

    It sounds to me like people are just looking for a reason to be upset, much like throwing a fit over the Starbucks wifi login. It’s very common for events and attractions to offer special discounts or rates for an audience they want to attract, but isn’t interested yet. In this particular case, and many others like it around Korea, locals are trying to attract foreigners to spread the joy of Korean culture. Is that a bad thing?

  • c

    yeah like the dream concert in seoul last year was 5000 won for Koreans who could get tickets, but then foreigner tickets were 100,000 won+

    There were entire sections just for foreigners who paid that much, and koreans could too if they wanted but only those seats were advertised lol

  • Foreigner family

    As a Foreigner family of 5: It was the Best two day get-a-way my family has ever had in Korea. We spent over 750,000 won in the two days (Gas, food, hotel, fishing poles, Ice fishing, grilling the trout, Ice Bike, Ice sledding, snow slide, and Zip line), even with the discount coupons if was still fun going around to the local restaurants. Every Korean we met was Wonderful, Inviting, and a pleasure for our family. We even had 8″ of snow over night that was an added special for our children. Our only Hiccup: I’m embarrassed to mention is the IPad ($490.00 not included in our spending) that was forgotten in the ladies restroom that wasn’t returned (Our fault for course.) Overall it wasn’t cheap at all, but so much fun for our children that we will go again next year.

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